On a warm autumn day, in a town on the Mediterranean, I let my kid choose where she wanted to have lunch. Her choice led us to a place were locals go. Tables next to each other. Waiters saluting clients with a non-chalance of old friends. This kind of place.
We were given a table in the middle of the room and soon enough a couple was sat next to us.
She was beaming with elegance, her hair just out of a hairdresser. White blouse, dark skirt. Let’s call her Mathilde. He was dressed as if in a hurry. A hurry to see her, I thought. Let’s call him Henry. They both seemed to have been born in the middle of last century.
They ordered the plat du jour and wine. Henry immediately became chatty with the lady at the table next to him and told her the story of his life in 5 minutes: he is retired, daughter lives in another country, he and the lady having lunch with him is not his wife and they just “see each other”. He would be good on Twitter, I thought, with such a talent for conciseness.
The lady at the next table offered them her unfinished bottle of wine. I also wanted to offer something, in exchange for more stories. I offered them our untouched basket of bread. They accepted it with the joy of 5 year olds on Christmas eve.
As we switched our attention to our plates, their dialogue unfolded:
– Oh, darling, your back hurts you again?, Henry asked with a compassion level 100, as she tried to find a comfortable posture in her chair.
– Oh, it’s fine, Mathilde tried to reassure him.
– Well, you know the remedy. You come to my place. You undress. I give you a massage on your back, his hands demonstrating circular movements, as if around her delicate shoulders.
Mathilde blushed and directed his eyes with her green eyes to my daughter, as if saying: « Shsh, there are kids around ». Henry’s blue eyes responded: “Well, sooner or later, she will find out. What’s there to hide?!”
– Well, you felt good after our last time…, his sweet smile enveloping her.
We left the place with the feeling of having watched a good movie from the 50s. Their illuminated faces – a lovely memory of an autumn love story. Ageless. Priceless.
P.S. I remembered this story in the times of this pandemic… I truly hope they are well and their love continues to brighten their days.
– Bye, darling, I am gone for half-a-day.
– « Gone? ». Did you write your déclaration for today?
– Why? Do we need one now for going to the bathroom?
Well, if I cannot go to the Spa, the Spa comes to me. And as in a Award acceptance speech, my thanks go to:
– my flat owner for having not saved money on a proper bathtub. Those with a history with French « landlords » know what I am talking about.
– my pharmacist for having good supplies of essential oils. For now, my favourites are Lemon and Palmarosa for their escapist abilities to take my senses to a garden in full bloom.
– and to my hubby for my perfect espresso with a pinch of nutmeg.
By the end of this week, I developed an interest in Kardashians. I know everything about Stormie. I do not keep up yet with the entire klan (k – on purpose) of Kardashians. If this lasts, however, you never know.
My hubby trusted me with his haircut. I am not yet ready to reciprocicate.
I joined the diminishing trend of the blond population, estimated to go down by 70-80 percent. We, blondes, need to remain trendy.
My succulent is blossoming. Spring is in da house:
While teleworking, I discovered that routine is queen. Yet, I remember that it is a constitutional monarchy. Dancing and crying and hugging and feeling sad are not under her rule. I can do any or all of that, if I feel like. No permission from the queen-routine required.
At the first walk-around-the-block since this started: « Mom, I have an impression I am walking with a toddler…». I was beyond myself from the sun and air and river view. Never in my life the view of a swimming water rat excited me to levels I never knew. I promise, my child, I’ll grow swiftly back into your mom.
As we cannot go and greet the spring, the way we used to, we turn to art. Thank you Conny Famm for your “State of soul”.
My shopping patterns changed. I cancelled orders. That’s a first for me. Instead, I redirected the money to a local initiative of chefs cooking for hospitals’ staff in the region – Des repas pour les anges gardiens. And in my home country through Diaconia http://www.diaconia.md.
The fight for internal resources – the one and only laptop in the house – ended with a gentlemen agreement.
I “went” to a ballet performance. « LAC » by Jean-Christophe Maillot at Monte Carlo Opera, courtesy of Monaco plus.
I seriously upgraded my emoji use skills. From novice to intermediate. I am still very far from the emoji-master in my house. I’ve got something to aspire to.
We welcomed a new precious member into our family and thank him for reminding us of the gift of life. We wish him a happy and long life! And we promise to be more conscious of what we do to mother Earth and how we treat each other.
I clearly distinguish now by voice the neighbours’ kids: baby, toddler 1, toddler 2, just kid, teenager 1, teenager 2.
My average weekly walking distance is a joke. I turned off the counting. Walking with the phone in the pocket does not help.
I am glad I can cook and bake. These skills are priceless. Thank you, grandmother. I know you are smiling with satisfaction now.
I am disappointed that there was no funny incident during my kid’s virtual classes this week. You know, like the ones facebook is flooded with. With the exception of a background noise of some plates reaching the floor and the teacher’s voice: “ Attention, la vaisselle!” I hope it was not too expensive.
I immersed myself in hand washing, stream-washing style. Excellent for shoulders. Some of my wash-by-hand cloths are having a pool party. At least someone does.
And, my succulent is a text book example of resilience: and it shall bloom no matter what.
The closest pharmacy to my place is on the ground floor of my apartments bloc. The other day, as I was waiting outside for my turn to enter, a seniour citizen in his late 70s “approached” me:
– You are not wearing a mask…. Why?, he asked, a bandana in his hand.
– I do not need to. It serves those who are sneezing, coughing…, I answered summoning all my empathy.
– You know, he replied, I am terrified. I watch the TV and see all that….
– I have no TV for ten years now.
– You may be right, he said,…about the TV.
– Would you like to go inside the pharmacy? I can wait, I offered.
He gladly took my offer. I could hear their conversation. The pharmacist assumed he had hearing problems so he was yelling his answers. The gentleman was clearly scared. He did not buy anything. He needed human interaction and hypeless communication.
There is no right or wrong way to react to all around in these new circumstances. It’s one thing to watch a SF movie and another to be here and now. This is one of the reasons I never liked SF movies and apocalyptic views.
Back to the story of this gentleman. He is one of the millions, indoors, with a TV only as a company, probably, his loneliness brought at another level… . Psychologists already noticed it. Too many bad news and little information on recovery is dangerous for the human psyche. Psychologists around the world keep encouraging to try to look for positives and share them when you talk to others. It is demonstrated by research that a stressed mind diminishes the immune response.
Some countries and regions have installed services for people to call and talk to someone. Some of us are doing it at personal level – through baskets of solidarity or food ordered and delivered to those who need it. I see it in my country, enabled by charities joining forces with the business, like Diaconia and Kaufland.
Again, on a personal level one can read a book by skype/phone or start a virtual book club. Or put together a list of online entertainment: free opera streaming, concerts, movies, virtual museums visits etc. Little gestures which bring a human voice and touch to a lonely human heart … .
I loved Daniel Kaufmann’s article of this week “Caremongering – random acts of kindness” https://www-brookings-edu.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2020/03/19/caremongering-in-the-time-of-coronavirus-random-acts-of-kindness-and-online-enrichment/amp/
Here is to caremongering – random acts of kindness today and everyday.
Dachstein, Alsace, October
“Mother is a verb. It is something you do. Not who you are”: it made me think of all those who mothered me.
My hubby who got me water when I collapsed from dehydration.
My kid who places her hand on my forehead to check whether I have fever.
My baker, who slides into my bag a little sweet surprise.
My swimming trainer who helped me overcome a childhood fear with just two words: “trust me”.
My cat waiting for me by the door to come back from my first trip abroad twenty years ago… His mothering ended at that, as stealing my breakfast remained his favourite game 🙂
Here is to all beings who mother each day, with gentle gestures, words of kindness and touches of love.
I’ll go now and mother someone.
Happy mothers day!
Le Glezio’s phrase “Now the photogrher’s kitchenette is full of boxes of gunower tea and jasmin tea and little bundles of mint” in “Desert” triggered a memory.
I was having breakfast in one of the locally branded cafes in an airport in the easterm part of this double-baptised continent. A vegetables omlette, a fresh orange juice and an espresso.
A lady asked if the seat vis-a-vis mine is free. Her grey well done hair was nimb like. The light of her spirit made her face look wrinkless. She was above eighty or maybe seventy or sixty? It did not realy matter. Her softness and kindness was just transcendent, translucent and ageless. She looked briefly at the menu and ordered a mint tea. The waiter respectfully obliged and returned within minutes. She seemed content.
I finished my breakfast in her quiet company. Her gestures made it clear that no talk will be imposed from either sides. I did not want to spoil the mint translucence either.
As my boarding time was announced, I went to the waiter to pay for my breakfast and asked him to include the lady’s mint tea on my bill. He was surprised yet managed it quickly with a humble accomplice smile. His smile had the mint flavour without him knowing it.
I returned for my things and wished the beautiful lady a nice day. She responded with a quiet mint smile. I stored it in my memory box in the department of “beauty is all around us” with the mint color label of “all we need is to see and feel it”.